The study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, differentiates “convergent” from “divergent” thinking.
‘Cognitive benefits of caffeine are increased alertness, improved vigilance, enhanced focus, and improved motor performance.
The former is defined as seeking a specific solution to a problem, for example, the “correct” answer, while the latter is characterized by idea generation where a large set of apt, novel or interesting responses would be suitable.
Caffeine was shown to improve convergent thinking in the study while consuming it had no significant impact on divergent thinking, the researchers said.
For the study, 80 volunteers were randomly given either a 200 milligram (mg) caffeine pill, equivalent to one strong cup of coffee, or a placebo.
They were then tested on standard measures of convergent and divergent thinking, working memory and mood.
In addition to the results on creativity, caffeine did not significantly affect working memory, but test subjects who took it did report feeling less sad.
“The 200mg enhanced problem solving significantly, but had no effect on creative thinking,” said Zabelina.
“It also didn’t make it worse, so keep drinking your coffee; it won’t interfere with these abilities,” she said.